Special Saturday Post: TriMovieThon

An athletic contest in which each athlete competes in three different events, swimming, cycling, and running

Hello all, I usually take a weekend break, but today isn’t just another day. In honor of my husband’s first triathlon race, I thought I’d post three movies that well represent each of the sporting event. The theme of this post isn’t so much about each of the sport itself, but more about endurance and discipline in training for such a formidable competition. One thing for sure, all the preparation my hubby has gone through is quite inspiring for me. Well anyway, on that note, here are the three movies that just might do the same for you.

On a Clear Day (2005)– Swimming
Plot: After decades of laboring as a Glasgow shipbuilder, Frank Redmond, a no-nonsense 55-year-old working-class man, suddenly finds himself laid off. For the first time in his life, he is without a job or a sense of direction, and he’s too proud to ask for guidance. His best mates – rascally Danny (Billy Boyd), timid Norman and cynical Eddie – are there for him, but Frank still feels desperately alone. An offhand remark from Danny inspires Frank to challenge himself. Already contemplating the state of his relationships with loving wife Joan (Brenda Blethyn) and all-but-estranged son Rob, Frank is determined to shore up his own self-confidence. He will attempt the near impossible – swimming the English Channel.

I actually have not seen this movie, yet, but it’s on my Netflix queue. It’s one of those movies I’ve been curious about for some time. The story sounds as if it were based on a true story. It isn’t, but who knows, it might inspire someone to do the same thing he did. A tale of an ordinary person overcoming personal adversity in an extraordinary way is always a tale worth telling, and I got to admit the lush Scottish scenery is enticing as well. This small movie got a decent rating on RottenTomatoes, and Roger Ebert had plenty of great things to say about the lead actor Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Miss Julie), even if he thought the movie wasn’t deep enough.

The Flying Scotsman (2006) – Cycling
Plot: The true story of Graeme Obree, the Champion cyclist who built his bicycle from old bits of washing machines who won his championship only to have his title stripped from him and his mental health problems which he has suffered since.

I saw this about a year ago or so and was quite moved by this movie. Too bad this small indie didn’t get much press as Johnny Lee Miller’s performance was quite noteworthy. It’s based on Obree’s own autobiography of the same name, he started off as an ordinary small bike shop owner in Scotland (Ok now, I didn’t plan for it, but I realized after I picked the movies, that they’re all from Britain) 🙂 Anyway, with all life’s crisis come crushing down on him – business problems, new baby, bouts of clinical depression – cycling is his only escape.

Well it seems a movie isn’t ‘Scottish’ enough without Billy Boyd (Pippin in The Lord of the Rings). He appears in this one as well as Obree’s pal Malky, and he’s the one egging him on to enter the competition to fulfill his lifelong dream. Obree built his own bike ‘Old Faithful’ which includes parts from a washing machine, much to his wife’s bewilderment, and also invented a riding position dubbed the Superman style, with arms fully extended in front, hence his nickname Flying Scotsman.

Seasoned actors Brian Cox and Steven Berkoff played Obree’s mentor and nemesis (the racing official), and Laura Fraser was great as well as Obree’s faithful wife. It’s a beautifully-shot film with colorful cinematography and scenic location that support an uplifting and emotionally-engaging true story.

Chariots of Fire (1981) – Running
Plot: The movie is based on the true story of two British athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Englishman Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), who is Jewish, overcomes anti-Semitism and class prejudice in order to compete against the “Flying Scotsman”, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), in the 100 metre race.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably heard the famous music score by Greek composer Vangelis. A British classic that won four Oscar, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score. British actor Ian Holm (Mr. Mithril! :D) was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Another true story, and this one is as inspiring as they come. Though it portrays a Christian in a favorable light (which is rare in most mainstream movies) and faith is a topic that’s explored throughout, it’s not exactly a ‘religious’ movie. It’s not about running either, rather, it’s a character study with themes of perseverance, friendship, integrity and love (for God and for man).

Just a bit of trivia about the title from the official site of the movie’s cinematographer David Watkin: The title is a reference to the line, “Bring me my chariot of fire,” from the William Blake poem adapted into the hymn Jerusalem. The Blake poem was influenced by several Bible verses, most notably 2nd Kings 2:11 regarding Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. The film’s working title was “Running” until [screenwriter] Colin Welland saw the scene with the singing of the hymn and decided to change the title.

The movie was filled with iconic scenes that people remember to this day, especially the famous beach running one in the opening sequence with that indelible score.

Have you seen any of these movies? Please let me know your thoughts.